TMEP 709.01: Personal Interviews

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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709.01    Personal Interviews

Personal interviews with examining attorneys concerning applications and other matters pending before the USPTO are permissible on any working day and must be in the office of the respective examining attorney, within office hours that the examining attorney may designate.

Personal interviews must be arranged in advance, preferably by fax, e-mail, or telephone.  This will ensure that the assigned examining attorney will be available for the interview at the scheduled time and will have an opportunity to review the application record.  The unexpected appearance of a qualified practitioner or applicant requesting an interview without any previous notice to the examining attorney is not appropriate.

An interview should be conducted only when it could serve to develop and clarify specific issues and lead to a mutual understanding between the examining attorney and the applicant.  Interviews should not extend beyond a reasonable time.

The examining attorney should not hesitate to state that matter presented for consideration during the interview requires further research, if this is the case.  Furthermore, the examining attorney may conclude an interview when it appears that no common ground can be reached.

During an interview with a pro se applicant who is not familiar with USPTO procedure, the examining attorney may in his or her discretion make suggestions that will advance the prosecution of the application, but these interviews should not be allowed to become unduly long.

When an agreement is reached during an interview but it is not possible to resolve all issues through an examiner’s amendment, the examining attorney should enter a Note to the File in the record concerning the agreement, and request that the applicant incorporate the agreement in its response.

Sometimes, the examining attorney who conducted the interview is transferred, resigns, or retires, and examination of the application is taken over by another examining attorney.  If there is an indication in the record that an interview was held, the new examining attorney should endeavor to ascertain whether any agreements were reached during the interview.  The new examining attorney should take a position consistent with agreements previously reached, unless doing so would be a clear error ( see TMEP §706.01).

Except in unusual situations, no interview on the merits is permitted after the brief on appeal is filed, or after an application has been forwarded for publication or issue.